“Without getting too emotional?” he said during his weekly news conference. “It’s hard. It’s hard. You know, you love the guys.”
Hoke has two more games with the program where he’s been head coach since 2020, his second stint in the top job. And it’s been a rough season – the Aztecs have a 3-7 record, with just one win against Mountain West opponents. They head north to play San Jose State (5-5, 4-2 MW) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Knowing his 65th birthday was on the way – he celebrated it Nov. 3 – was a factor in opting to retire, Hoke said, and something he realized he would need to discuss with his wife.
“I just think it’s one of those things where you don’t know if (you) ever know when it’s time, but I did know, and I did feel that going into this season that would be something that we would approach and talk about, Laura and I during the season,” he said.
The players, according to defensive end Garret Fountain and running back Martin Blake, suspected something was going on before Hoke broke the news. Fountain called the team announcement “a little emotional.”
What has Fountain learned from Hoke? “Obviously, how to bust my tail on the football field … and how to learn to be a great player and what you need to do because he’s been around this game so long. Also like I said, just being a man, husband, and a father. He’s a great role model for anybody.”
Blake said Hoke made him realize that “it’s okay to be hard working, but at the same time,
have some character to you, have a personality.” With two more games to play, the sophomore wants a proper sendoff for his coach.
“We’re going to keep pushing no matter what and keep that culture, try and strive for him and keep going these last two weeks with him and try and battle for these last two wins for him,” he said. “Send him off on a high note.”